We don’t get or have time at all – instead we are time. We’ll never get the upper hand in our relationships with the moments of our lives because we are nothing but those moments.
Last Sunday I was sleeping in a dark hotel room with my husband when I heard his alarm going off for the second time. Only to quickly realize it wasn’t his alarm, it was a phone call. A phone call saying our two year old sons asthma was bad and we needed to come home. Luckily our “getaway” was only ten minutes away. If you’re a parent you know you don’t need to be 500 miles away to feel recharged, all you need is a hotel bed, black out curtains and a night or two without a toddler, iykyk. After getting home, giving Johnathan his nebulizer treatments we realized he wasn’t improving all that much. And so, in all too familiar fashion, we filled a bag with necessities and headed for the hospital. Our little bubba ended up needing to stay in the hospital for 36 hours, getting some extra oxygen his body needed.
In the past five years I’ve sat and laid next to each of my children and husband in hospital beds and each time I’m hit with this paradoxical feeling of having time slow to a crawl within the walls of your hospital room while the world outside goes about their lives. Often in our daily lives we are consumed with ideas of not “wasting time” or the pressure of “living in the moment”. We innately begin to view time as a resource that we can manipulate or control, but there’s no greater reality check on your lack of control than a hospital. In a hospital you’re forced to surrender any illusion of control over time or finitude you think you have. As much as we want to wield control over our time the universe will continue to show us that no one can master time, that you can’t outrun the flipped hourglass that is each of our lives.
In 4000 weeks, Time Management for Mortals, Oliver Burkeman describes “a more fruitful approach to the challenge of living more fully in the moment starts from noticing that you are, in fact, always already living in the moment anyway, whether you like it or not. To try to live in the moment implies that you’re somehow separate from “the moment” and thus in a position to either succeed or fail at living in it.” So stop beating yourself up for “not living in the moment” enough. You have no choice you are living in the moment, it’s how you to choose to give your attention and experience those moments that matter.
While we were in the hospital last week I kept thinking about this quote. Usually living in the moment is associated with saying yes to the spontaneous invitation, watching the sunrise, dancing without inhibition, fun, light things. Yet there I was, with the Cars 2 movie playing for the third time in 30 hours, laying next to my son, trying to memorize his little curls and the way he rolls his blanket between his hands while simultaneously sucking his thumb, and I could not have “lived in the moment” more. It was a moment I would never have chosen for myself, but it was my reality. Ask any mom about the paradox that is time. The days can drag on, the phases that feel never ending, and yet suddenly you have a walking, talking toddler and you don’t understand how so much time has already passed. This feeling of chasing time, of wanting to savor every minute of it, of older generations reminding us how quickly it all really flies by can add pressure to make sure we’re doing THE most. When what would benefit us the most is to stop splitting our attention, stop trying to see how much we can cram into our day but instead shifting our focus to our focus. What makes our lives meaningful are our experiences. But in order to truly experience something we have to give our attention to it. Burkeman notes “to have any meaningful experience you must be able to focus on it, at least a bit. Otherwise, are you really having it at all? Can you have an experience you don’t experience?”
Things like meditation and breathwork train our brains to pause. To allow room for focus in a world that is filled with pings and dings, devices that are constantly pulling our focus in a hundred different directions.
I snapped this photo this week, we were reading books on the couch before bed, Chris was reading Dragons Love Tacos, and Johnathan held my hand. And I couldn’t stop looking at that little hand inside mine. I gave that little hand all my attention and focus, feeling the warmth from it, how his little fingers gripped onto my palm, the tiny veins that run along the top of his hand, the calmness of the moment. It was hard to believe a few days prior we were in the hospital and now we’re back at home, in this moment.
I hope this post encourages you to slow down, to draw more attention to the moments you’re already living it. Whether they’re the same bedtime routine you’ve grown tired of, or a new destination, or lifes cruel realities. I hope you can find moments to take in and fully experience for all that they are.